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Trivial Personal Milestone – 150k scrobbles

June 20th, 2012 - 7:52 am | No Comments | Audio, Emotions, Research

Scrobbling is a service from Last.FM that keeps track of all the music I’ve played to produce a personal music profile. I started scrobbling on April 21st, 2004 after hearing about it during a conversation between ex-Nullsoft crew huddled in an private IRC room. Later on once Last.FM and Scrobbler merged in 2005 I forgot about my profile and let it go. Since that time I’ve visited the site once every few months to see what music has been recommended to me. There hasn’t been much movement on the site since being acquired by CBS in 2007, as they slowly gutted many of the better features of the site.

Anyway, point being I’ve finally reached 150,000 scrobbles, putting me in the top 1% of all scrobblers that aren’t doing it just to game the system. On the left is an artist cloud from the 3 previous months, based on tracks listened to. The massive Japanese name dead center is Yoko Kanno (9,482 times played), a prolific Japanese music producer that has many amazing and varied albums under her belt. To get a true feel as to what I’ve been listening to I’d recommend visiting Normalisr, which ranks your logged listening habits based on time instead of number of tracks, thus making it much more accurate.

A few lesser known recommended artists:

  • Steve Reich – Music For 18 Musicians. I refuse to classify his scores as minimalist, because they are anything but that. No technology or electronics involved, just amazingly talented musicians producing the most lush and naturally evolving soundscapes I’ve heard in my life till this moment. Watching a live rendition has been on my bucket list for a while.
  • Tommy Emmanuel – In my opinion the best living solo entertainer and fingerpicking guitarist of our time. ‘Initiation’ is one song, if you could even call it that… a soundscape that simply cannot be recorded properly and must be heard live, his shows are always a treat and family friendly. Do yourself a favor and click his name to watch his amazing ‘cover’ of Classical Gas.
  • Bonobo – Natural downtempo published by Ninja Tune, also amazing live.
  • Yoko Kanno & The Seatbelt’s – Cowboy Bebop Box Set. Jazz and more… the albums are so varied it’d be hard to cover em’ all. Samples: Slow Jazz, Fast Jazz, Pure Moodish.
  • More of Yoko Kanno – be sure to check out the “Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex” album. Samples one, two and three.
  • Bear McCreary’s Season 3 soundtrack for Battle Star Galactica.
  • _ensnare_ – Dancable 8-bit blippy bloppy awesomeness
  • Bassnectar – Dubstep, breakbeat, electronic, glitch, breaks. We also happen to share a first name. If you like his stuff check out Deadmau5 as well, but you probably already know of em’.

I have to stop here, there are many more great singles than complete albums. I’ve actually been rating all 19k+ tracks/compliations in my musical library on a scale of 0 to 5 in 0.5 steps, once I’m closer to completion I will post what I think are the best of the best (there are only 46 5-star tracks out of 13k tracks I’ve already hand rated!). Maybe I should post about music more often, I find it fun :)

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Solving the Music Player Refresh bug (Symbian S60)

May 29th, 2010 - 6:17 pm | No Comments | Audio, Code, Hacks, Modifications, Projects

How many times has this happened to you on your Nokia phone? You take out your MicroSDHC card and toss all your MP3s on to it… put it into the phone, Music Player begins to refresh and… Freezes. Well, the bar is still moving but your refresh counter is either stuck at zero or some other number that is much less than the actual amount of music you added. This was a permanent error and required you to delete your media database to allow it to reload any new media ever again.

This upset me greatly and it seems like no one online had a clue to it’s cause or how to fix it; So, I set out to do what Nokia should have done ages ago and debugged/solved it myself!

WHY IT BREAKS

There is a bug within a hidden system service called MPXHarvesterServer. Its mission is to update the media database if any new or changed media show up on the phone.  My current theory is this: If the harvester hits an MP3 file with either desynchronized ID3v1 and v2 tags, general ID3 corruption or “non-standard” tags hacks on an otherwise playable track it just suicides and corrupts the media database. It could also be that the MPX harvester server just doesn’t like anything but ID3v2.3 and chokes/dies on 1.1/2.2/2.4 tags.

HOW TO FIX IT

  1. Use software such as MediaMonkey (FREE!) to repair/resyncronize ID3 tags on your PC before synchronizing or copying to phone. The ghetto method of doing this is to select your whole music library and then edit one of the normally unused ID3v2 tags, such as ISRC or custom elements so it forces a complete redo of the ID3 tags on the files.
  2. Erase the potentially corrupted  database. Take your MicroSDHC card and connect it directly to the computer so you can delete the following files:
    1. “mpxv1.mpd” and “pcv5.mpd” inside the \private\101FFC31\ directory
    2. “harvesterdb.dat” inside the \private\101ffca9 directory
  3. Put the card back into your phone and enjoy a complete Music Player experience :)

If you happen to work for Nokia/Symbian: Please add at least a bit of error resistance/fallback. While your there make it so the music player only scans for music in the */music/ folders and not my ringtones or recorded messages directories, thanks.

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Audio-Technica A900 modifications

March 8th, 2010 - 2:36 am | 9 Comments | Audio, Design, Industrial, Modifications, Projects

A few months ago after much reviewing and research I purchased an imported set of Audio-Technica A900 cans from Japan for the (depending on your background, high) price of $200 USD.  These are an extremely well valued “mid-fi” solution that can be powered by almost any source. They are physically massive and have a fantastic sound-stage with surprisingly deep and punchy bass. From photos you might assume the blue casing is plastic, but it’s actually anodized aluminum, a pleasant surprise in our era. There are only two catches… Audio-Technica A900

  • The braided wire is on the left side of the cans, while all the input sources are on my right so the cable gets in my way some times.. pretty trivial and personal.
  • The earpads that come with the package are unusually cheap pleather that become a distraction after a few hours use. This is the focal point of the article.

So, whats a person to do? I couldn’t return them (nothing severely flawed), nor felt like posting them on craigslist. Improvement is the only logical option! I scoured the net for various suggestions and modifications available and one that kept popping up was to -obviously- replace the original pads with better pleather, velour, or true leathers pads. Purchasing another set of pleather pads was not even an option, and velour pads apparently ruin the bass response and acoustics, so true leather it is.. specifically pads from the top-of-the-line ATH-W5000. The fit will supposedly be extremely tight because of the slightly smaller radius of the W5000 attachment ring, but it’s as good as it gets.

Audio-Technica W5000 flagship modelThe ATH-W5000 is the current Audio-Technica audiophile flagship model that has an ebony wooden casing, true leather earpads, fantastic frequency response, and a ludicrous MSRP value of $1700 (though reseller average is a -mere- $750). At this time, the replacement earpads can be purchased directly from Audio-Technica’s repair depot for $76.90, shipped to Canada… much less than online resellers. This brings my total purchase price to $276.90, which could have gone to another brand of headphones, but alas, live and learn :)

After the replacement pads arrived I popped off the originals and took my sweet time massaging and rotating the new pads into place. An important thing to at this point is that the original pads are not flat but actually angled to create a better seal around the ear, this makes the endeavour a bit of a challenge.

So here you have it, completed headphones, the moment of truth…

Blah. Well, it was somewhat expected while I was looking at the new pads. The core theory was correct, the material was better and should have allowed longer usage without annoyance, but they were overshadowed by new problems. It comes down to the design difference between the pads:

The problem comes with the shape of the opening in the pads as well as the amount of padding provided. My ears are on the large side but they fit comfortably into the oval shape inside the normal A900 pads, the W5000 pads are too small and irritate my ears by keeping them in an unusual position. The W5000 pads also contain less padding and as such create an imperfect seal that removes the amazing lows the A900 provides, this is proven by pressing the headphones against the ears, the bass returns. So, I’ll be selling/returning the W5000 pads, passively on the look out for something new, but it has become a reminder that sometimes, “good enough” is good enough :)

Unrelated to all this, this will probably be the first posting on the blog, so hi, hello, welcome. I don’t like empty introductions, but enjoy useful and informative content, hopefully you do as well, which is why you’re here. I would also like to say that there is no such thing as trivial information, just some that is too granular depending on the beholder, which is why I can’t stand the taste of some tomatoes or watermelon; how’s that for a segue? :p

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